Obama's ethics chief: Questioning Hunter Biden's art deals legitimate

The White House has been struggling to maintain the perspective regarding the sale of Hunter Biden’s paintings for tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands, of dollars that it is something that shouldn’t even be questioned.

That’s even though his novice art has been described as like coffee house paintings – something one would pay a few hundred or a few thousand dollars for it one knew the painter.

Or if his name was prominent.

In actuality, his strategy for pulling in more money has been alarming to many because of the possibility – despite White House promises he wouldn’t know any purchasers – that it would be a conduit to funnel money into the Biden family coffers while Joe Biden is president, and in a position to dispense significant favors.

A DailyMail report just this week indicated that the two Bidens shared bank accounts and paid each other’s bills at one point.

But it is a legitimate issue, and needs to be addressed, according to one of Barack Obama’s advisers.

According to the Daily Mail, it is Walter Shaub, former chief of the Office of Government Ethics, who is raising concerns that White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki refuses to discuss the problem.

Shaub had regularly criticized President Trump’s administration when he perceived issues with various federal requirements for officials.

Now he’s commented on social media that it’s wrong for Psaki to brush aside questions about the financial maneuverings of Hunter Biden.

“These are legitimate questions,” he said.

His comment came after Psaki scolded a reporter for raising the subject.

Psaki, when asked about the White House pledge to keep those purchasers anonymous – when images and video have appeared showing Hunter Biden mingling with possible purchasers at a recent show where a handful of his works were sold, dismissed it.

“It still is the purview of the gallerist. We still do not know and will not know who purchases any paintings. And the president remains proud of his son,” she said.

She told the reporter to move on to another subject.

“Did you have another question on something else? Otherwise, we’re going to move on to some other topics. Lots going on in the world,” she scolded.

Shaub said, on social media, “These are legitimate questions. It’s disappointing to hear @jrpsaki send a message that the WH thinks the public has no right to ask about ethics. After the last 4 years, these questions have never been more important. I know this isn’t a popular opinion, but this stuff matters.”

Reports revealed Hunter Biden had sold five projects for $75,000 apiece at or after the recent showing in Los Angeles.

The Daily Mail reported, “Ethics watchdogs had raised concerns ahead of the event that buyers could try to curry influence with the president by buying his son’s work for inflated sums. The White House claimed they were avoiding any ethical conflict by ensuring neither the president nor Hunter will know the identity of the buyers.”

But Shaub noted, “There is no ethics program in the world that can be built around the head of state’s staff working with a dealer to keep the public in the dark about the identities of individuals who pay vast sums to the leader’s family member for subjectively priced items of no intrinsic value.”

He continued, “If this were Trump, Xi or Putin, you’d have no doubt whatsoever that this creates a vehicle for funneling cash to the first family in exchange for access or favors. Nor would you doubt that the appearance of monetizing the presidency was outrageous.”

He described Hunter Biden’s activities in negative terms. “Of course Hunter is a private citizen and can do whatever his conscience dictates. But a patriot wouldn’t engage in this profiteering. And the president shouldn’t and his staff shouldn’t be tacitly enforcing it by defending it and pushing back against questions.”

It was Sebastian Smee, the Washington Post’s Pulitzer Prize–winning art critic, who previously said the work was like that of a “café painter,” with, “You see a certain kind of art in coffee shops, and some of it is OK and a lot of it is bad, and sometimes it’s surprisingly good. But you wouldn’t, unless you were related to the artist, spend more than $1,000 on it.”

Peter Schweizer, chief of the Governmental Accountability Institute and author of the best-selling books “Profiles in Corruption,” “Secret Empires” and “Clinton Cash,” recently wrote in a column that he wanted to know why Congress is not investigating the “scam” by Hunter Biden to channel money into his family’s coffers.

Schweizer raised the questions in a column at the Gatestone Institute, where he is a distinguished senior fellow.

The issue is Hunter Biden’s plan, as a novice artist, to sell paintings for as much as $500,000.

“Why is this not being scrutinized?” Schweizer wrote. “The ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., has sent letters to Bergès demanding the complete documentation of transactions involving Hunter’s art sales. Comer is unlikely to get it: only the Democrat majority on the committee can authorize subpoenas to compel those records. As the Wall Street Journal noted in a recent editorial, the committee’s chairwoman, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N,Y., seems uninterested in doing so.

“Why are they failing to scrutinize what is so obviously a back-door scheme to funnel money to the president’s son from foreign sources? Every American who cares about transparency in government should be outraged.”

WND earlier reported it’s just the latest scheme launched by Hunter Biden.

Schweizer pointed out, “First, it was his being named, with no expertise whatsoever in either Ukraine or the oil and gas business, to the board of directors of Burisma, a Ukrainian oil and gas company under investigation for fraud. Then it was the deluxe payday in 2012 for his Rosemont-Seneca real estate investment partnership, which was bankrolled to the tune of more than $1.5 billion by Chinese investors with close ties to the Chinese Communist Party. Hunter had little or no experience in private equity, either, but he had just arrived in Beijing aboard Air Force Two with his father the Vice President, just two weeks before that enormous deal was announced.”

Joe Biden also has shown a willingness to intervene in his son’s activities.

He met, as vice president for Barack Obama, with Ukrainian officials at a time that Burisma was under investigation for corruption, and he returned home to brag about how he threatened the nation with withholding $1 billion in American aid if they didn’t get rid of the prosecutor.

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This article was originally published by the WND News Center.

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